Matthew Perry was reportedly earning a massive amount before his sudden death, and the money came from the actor’s most iconic role as Chandler Bing in Friends. Perry earned $20 million a year from syndication and streaming revenue.
Perry died by apparent drowning on October 28. He was discovered dead in the hot tub of his home in the Pacific Palisades neighbourhood just after 4 pm.
The residual cash earned by an actor is presumably owned by his estate. After their death, the residual payments are considered their personal property.
NBC News reported that as per California laws, there are three possibilities about what could happen to Perry’s money, according to Charlie Douglas, a certified financial planner and president of HH Legacy Investments in Atlanta. Perry lived in California.
First, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has contracts that allow members to list beneficiaries for residual payments upon death. Perry may have named people here, if this is the case.
Douglas said that as a second option, Perry may have named a trust, instead of an individual, as the beneficiary. If this is the case, the residuals would flow to the trust, which would have stipulations as to who got them. As trusts are private, we may never know who inherits this money.
Third, Perry may not have named any beneficiary at all, which would allow state law to determine his estate plan. “It’s quite possible that, not having a spouse or children, he didn’t [write in] anything,” Douglas said.
Perry never married and has no children. The star is survived by his parents, who are divorced, as well as five half-siblings. His parents would likely receive his royalties from acting roles, and from what comes from his memoir, said Tasha Dickinson, trusts and estates partner at Day Pitney.
In this case, a “qualified disclaimer” could be elected by Perry’s parents, giving up their rights to the residuals. The money would go to his half-siblings in this case, according to Douglas. “It’s not unheard of at all that wealthy parents make disclaimers,” he said.
Otherwise, the probate court system is what will decide how Perry’s assets are divided. “Probate is especially undesirable in California because it’s expensive, time-consuming and an invasion of privacy [since] all court matters are public record,” said David Oh, head of tax and estate planning at Arta Finance.
He added that for stars like Perry, especially, “not having an estate plan creates confusion, attracts unwanted media attention and can cause family disputes.”
Oh said that it is also possible that Perry left his estate outside his family, as he had close relationships personally and professionally, and was in support of various philanthropic work.
In a 2022 interview, Perry said, “When I die, I know people will talk about ‘Friends,’ ‘Friends,’ ‘Friends.” And I’m glad of that, happy I’ve done some solid work as an actor ... But when I die, as far as my so-called accomplishments go, it would be nice if ‘Friends’ were listed far behind the things I did to try to help other people. I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice.”
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